Unreadable blue eyes, stared back at me. He was almost the same as I remembered him. He still sported long, black hair that simply fell to his back. The sight of the armor he wore didn’t surprise me—his talents begged him to become head of the knights. Think ancient black samurai-style armor, with strange glowing symbols all over it. My brother’s aura felt immense almost like Conus’s presence.
“You’ve grown well, little brother,” he said, his voice expressing no emotion. “You didn’t give in to the human spells of gluttony, preferring to train. I wish we could speak under better circumstances.” His gaze hardened. “Had I known you escaped Hell, I would’ve gotten to you before Amelia.”
“Wait, you didn’t know?” I said, overcoming my slight fear of him.
“The knights are deployed for undetermined amounts of time. In order to keep us focused on the tasks at hand, we do not receive news from the outside during these deployments.” He sighed. “It’s surprising that the girl who claimed to love you brought you here.”
“It wasn’t Amelia who brought me here,” I said.
“What? I was told your retrieval was one of the Venus Clan.”
“No. It was some crazy-strong chick named Karma,” I told him.
Hialucus’s eyes widened.
“Little brother, did you not know that the legendary Karma is Amelia’s eldest sister.”
Now it was my turn to have wide eyes. When Karma first attacked and spoke to us—that hesitation—Amelia must’ve recognized her sister’s voice. All of the talk of Amelia from Karma was sisterly rivalry. I had been so absorbed in escaping hunters that I missed the resemblance, even when it revealed itself in front of me as the divine state. Both of the states’ attitudes were the same. Irony? Fucking bad luck to get caught by the sister I never knew she had. In fact, the only relative of Amelia’s I had met was her father, also known as Natural Selection. Conus and Ronin were great friends, and ecstatic that the predetermined love force chose to bond Amelia and me. Sometimes I questioned that but in the end, I didn’t care if they had something to do with it or not.
“You probably don’t know that she’s the daughter of Lilian Venus, also known as Mother Nature.”
I shook my head. Hialucus glared.
“Amelia’s among the six leaders of the heavenly hunters, so I will assume that not only did she immediately find you, but you lived with her up to this point. She probably spoke little of Paradise Realm politics to keep your mind off your pursuers. The leader six may have indefinite permission to travel anywhere, but she still has her family. Her responsibilities as princess of the Venus Clan simply cannot be ignored.
Did she not think her family would eventually check up on her? Never mind, don’t answer that. It’s not important right now.” He folded his arms. “I may be your only pleasant visit as I remained neutral as to the feud of your punishment but Father has plans to visit. It would be in your best interest to restrain any ill will.” He turned. “I will be present at your trial. Just know if you want to escape, do it then and surprise them. I will not stop you.”
He left, leaving me in awe.
Dammit, why couldn’t he give me a reason to keep him on my shit list. Why was he still the same cool big brother that I always looked up to—not the dickhead obstacle on my road of escape. My brothers and I were never at odds—Conus wouldn’t have that—but I knew not all of them would approve of my actions. Well, it’s not like I gave a shit anyway.
“Hey, is there some kind of warden here? I gotta piss,” I shouted. A male angel dressed in a white shirt with black slacks appeared. He spoke in a voice that rich billionaire asshole snobs all seemed to have on TV.
“If you kindly turn around and look to your left, there is a restroom. I forget that sometimes you have bodily functions.”
I think he meant that as a joke but I only frowned before turning around to see a door that wasn’t there a moment ago. It wasn’t half-bad either—a clean place with a shower, a toilet, sink, and mirror. Hell, they even included soap, shower gel, toothpaste, and a toothbrush. I took my sweet ass time cleaning up. A towel, clean jeans, plain white collared shirt, and clean socks were waiting for me when I stepped out of the shower. Must be their way of saying, “enjoy your pleasantries while you can.” With that list of charges, they were either going to sentence me to Hell for at least a decade or toss me in the depths. Hell sucked super supreme ass, but at least I hadn’t been in the depths. To think that nonstop torture could be worse. Fuck. I couldn’t go back, but if I did, at least it wouldn’t be surprising.
A plate containing various sliced fruit, along with a cup of water waited for me on the desk when I exited the bathroom. The door behind me vanished. Freaking angel show-off. After the lunch that left more to be desired, I lay in the bed. I mean there wasn’t much to do anyway, except wait for the big guy himself stop by to bring down the hammer. Man, did I want a burger. Sure, I couldn’t complain about the fruit—at least they fed me. That didn’t mean I had to like it. Someone pinged my cell bars. I sat up to see Karma, flanked by a female angel.
“You look pretty comfortable for someone headed to eternal torment,” Karma said, amusement in her voice. The angel beside her sighed. She was a caramel skin with red-brown hair.
“Let’s just hope Lord Conus will show him mercy,” she said.
Karma blinked in surprise. I shrugged. Another supporter. Maybe there was hope for me after all.
“You do know that he committed many forms of treason,” Karma said.
“Bullshit,” I said, uncaring if my language shrunk the cute angel’s opinion of me. “All incidents were self-defense. And sure, I was on the run for a while, but who wouldn’t after pulling off an impossible escape from Hell.”
“Self-defense?” the angel said, nodding, her expression seeming to be in relief. “I can see that being the case. You have very limited power, and defended yourself from brutal misthanger assassination attempts.”
Karma looked thoughtful, instead of being a bitch for once. She, too, nodded, then turned around. “Nothing much I can say to that,” Karma said, “but I’m not a part of the trial. If you do try something like escape, I will do my job as the punisher, if Lord Conus orders it.”
“By the way, Lord Conus will be visiting within the hour,” the angel warned. The nervousness struck hard as they left me with silence and anticipation. I was not looking forward to seeing him. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. This was going to suck.
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Alvin Atwater is a man of humor, a starving author. With a unique writing style that can outshine even Jim Butcher, Patria Briggs, or Kevin Hearne, he is a character-driven lovable lump of mass. Born in Florida, he's on a mission to defeat his arch nemesis, Florida Man, once and for all.
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Author of the Blood for Soul series and a secret coming-of-the-age epic fantasy. Lover of anime and manga: so yeah, weeb shit? Fun. Sue me haha.
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